Muhammad Ali's death is still being talked throughout the world. He has become an important icon that brings together people of all walks of life through his life, his struggle and his messages. Interestingly enough, all media organizations, from the US to Europe, are competing against each other in praising Ali.
Ali's Muslim identity and the struggle he waged for independence with this identity are generally being interpreted in the American independence paradigm. And then there are those who try to believe that his Muslim identity has nothing to do with his stance against discrimination and the Vietnam War or even his Muslim name. Yes it is true that in the days Ali started to become widely known, the US was under the influence of discrimination and stereotyping. However, the thing that distinguishes Ali's struggle from others is that he chose Islam as a religion, not anything else. But, those who know Muhammad Ali's ideas and actions can see Malcolm X (Malik el-Shabazz) in them. What distinguished Malcolm X from other American black movement leaders was undoubtedly his Muslim identity. Leaving his radical statements aside, him being the target of dark forces because of his Islamic ideas is rather meaningful.
As for the funeral, government policies, which also concern Turkey, came to the fore through Ali. Claims about a president who attended the funeral not being given the chance to make a speech and his Quran recitation offer being turned down are being made. If it was initially agreed that the Turkish board would make a speech and recite the Quran, but this agreement did not go forward, then we may reach the conclusion that the US government intervened in the situation. On the contrary, if there was no agreement at all and such a situation occurred, then not much would change.
We can look at the issue from two perspectives. The first is that such a practice, with which the family is not familiar, was not approved in the ceremonies that were already complicated enough. The second perspective is the possibility of a government intervention, whether or not there was an agreement.
It is not hard to guess that the US perceives the funeral of a figure like Muhammad Ali as a non-political event that concerned popular culture icon fans.
Firstly it is clear that the US would use this world-brand figure to add value to the American image. Besides, Ali was a figure who was more than just an athlete, he was a political and religious figure. When the issue is viewed from this perspective, it is not hard to guess that the US state mind would leave the funeral of such an important figure alone.
Everyone is aware that any message given at such a figure's (once an opponent) funeral will determine the agenda. Besides, it is unthinkable that they would allow a political message to be given at the funeral of a Muslim figure.
This is especially true in an environment in which Islamophobia is no longer just a way society expresses its hatred, but has become a product of state politics. In this case it is possible that the US displays a special attitude toward President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But more importantly they would have shown the same attitude even if the leader was former Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer instead of Erdoğan, due to the assumed Muslim image for those looking at the name from outside. The US made two moves at once. It blocked the possibility of a political message being conveyed to the Muslim world via this funeral and prevented the creation of an opposing and, most importantly, a political perception through Ali's most important aspect, his Muslim identity.
By transforming a peaceful Muslim figure into a popular icon they have also Americanized him. Although Ali was American, he was way more than that... Muslims loved him because of his opposing Muslim stance.
They wanted to bury his Muslim identity and his opposing stance with his body.